Tuesday, September 21st Council Meeting Summary
At last Tuesday’s Council Meeting, there was a great deal of public commentary and participation regarding particular items on the Agenda, of which I will discuss further below.
There was a large reaction by the community on the second reading and public hearing of Ordinance #10-27. The Ordinance would appropriate $250,000 for the reassessment of all real property in Englewood. Many residents came up to the microphone to speak, bringing up very good points which I will address:
- Why do the properties being reassessed require professional review? Why can’t it be done internally by the city?
The reassessment is not done by the City simply because you lose objectivity.
- Why is there only one company doing the revaluation? Why are there no comparative bids?
The tax department is strictly governed by the state law to get (3) quotations or bids. However, those reassessing can choose not to quote or bid on the City, considered “non-responsive.” Only one company responded, which is why the City chose this particular bid. This process is completely transparent, and all professionals in the business are fully aware of this process and their opportunity to bid.
- Why is the city doing a revaluation again? Didn’t we just do one in 2007?
Yes, we did. Unfortunately, as some citizens pointed out, we were at the height of the real estate market at that time and now the properties are worth much less. The reassessment will hopefully accomplish equalizing property values to reflect the current market, which will greatly reduce the number of tax appeals and the refunds the City might have to pay if they are successful.
- Who actually owns the data? Can’t databases be transferred from one company to another so that we can seek out cheaper bids in the future?
This is a great point. The City Manager will have to look at the contract in order to determine who owns the data as acquired from the previous reassessment. We do not have to have one single company provide us with the data every time we do a reassessment, we can just transfer that data to another company. First, it must be made sure that we are the owners of that data.
The result: the Ordinance was voted on, with four Councilmembers voting to adopt, and Drakeford opposed.
It is no surprise that Ordinance #10-28’s second reading and public hearing also caused a similar reaction. This ordinance would appropriate $810,000 to provide for the acquisition of trucks and equipment for the City of Englewood Department of Public Works. There are also a few key points on this that need to be addressed:
- Shouldn’t a written report be given every time something is voted on so that the citizens know the real benefit of the project?
I could not agree more. Written reports are great to examine the cost-benefit analysis of all projects. It is imperative that we obtain statistical data and facts for this particular ordinance. Like one citizen said, in addition to just “buying trucks,” it’s also factors like manpower, training, and overtime. Seeing the terrible system of snow removal that we had last year, we need to take greater precautions so that this does not happen again in the future.
- Where is the money for this coming from? Didn’t we just pass a budget not too long ago? Am I going to have to come back every month and see a new ordinance requesting more of the taxpayer’s money?
The budget we passed allows room for this. The money being spent is from the capital part of the budget. The Council must then pass an ordinance in order to issue the bonds to it.
- How come issues aren’t more transparent here in Englewood? I feel as if I am not getting enough information.
This is a great point, and one that I cannot stress enough. The City of Englewood is doing its best to make information available in print and online. I myself am trying to promote even more transparency by speaking directly to the people through the use of my own website. I also must stress the importance of the citizens of Englewood to come to council meetings and participate. It really does benefit the whole system.
The result: the Ordinance was voted on, with all members voting to adopt. I voted to support this ordinance because I witnessed first-hand the poor conditions and dated, decaying equipment the DPW had during the snowstorm last year. It is never a good idea to spend money, but when an issue of such as this keeps getting deferred, we end up in a crisis situation where something needs to change. I have requested a meeting with the City Manger to work directly with the director of the DPW to determine our plan of action. We must balance working with both the DPW and private contractors. If we properly contract, the City should experience an overall savings in real dollars. However, until I receive a full and complete report about what is being done, I will not be entirely satisfied.
In conclusion, I have approved all of the Ordinances this week.
It was wonderful to see so many people active in our community on Tuesday night, and I hope that this participation will continue in the future, as you all present many constructive and insightful comments to both myself and the Council. Whether you agree or disagree, your voice will be heard. We will all work as a team, not just as a Council, to make the decisions. Public participation is critical to ensure Englewood’s future success.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any of your questions or concerns via this website, e-mail, or phone at (201) 871-6666.